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July 9, 2011 / twocrows1023

Refining Ourselves — The Attitudes [4]

The Assimilation Attitude —Pragmatist
Dortmunder’s lady friend, May, is not quite as colorful as the other characters. She knows John is a thief—in fact that’s how they met: she caught him shoplifting at the store where she works. But she took pity on him when she saw him just standing there with a hangdog look and the balogna and cheese falling out of his armpits as he dug into his pocket to produce the boullion cubes she had seen him deposit there. So, what could she do? She took him in—rather as you or I would take in a stray cat. And, on occasion, she has to give him a swift kick to get him out of a mood or to point out a reality to him.

She has convinced herself that the grocery chain where she works as a cashier perceives her as a part of its family. And what family would begrudge a little something to its family member? So, she arrives home from work each day with a couple of sacks of groceries that she didn’t pay for [another reason she didn’t turn him in when she caught him doing what she does every day, anyway.]

When she decides to quit smoking [after chain smoking for years and years] she just does it.
And, when John is backing away from a job that could, if he doesn’t take it on, result in the deaths of several hundred people, she makes sure he steps up to find a non-violent solution to the problem.

And she likes to go to movies.

It took several books to build up this much of a picture of May. She’s just a fact of life in book after book after book—rather as the Pragmatist is simply a fact of life among the Attitudes.
Pragmatist [20%]
The neutral attitude is that of the Pragmatist. This is the attitude that represents the combination of the other six attitudes. All the other attitudes give a person a view of the world which is somewhat skewed — they see some facets of it better than others. Pragmatists have a viewpoint which is relatively free of distorted perceptions, compared to the other Attitudes. This has the obvious advantage that Pragmatists are not misinterpreting parts of the whole picture: they see it all with little distortion. On the other hand, this has the disadvantage that Pragmatists are not as colorful as people with other attitudes, other things being equal. Each of the other Attitudes emphasizes a different “color” in the world, so to speak, but the Pragmatist sees things more in shades of gray. Consequently, they tend not to stop and smell the roses along the way.

Pragmatists see the world as a place for experience of all kinds: initiation and conclusion, optimism and pessimism, subjectivity and objectivity. Pragmatists regard the world as a smoothly functioning system — as organism and mechanism, as spiritual and physical, as living and dying. All of this gives Pragmatists a very “matter of fact” or “down to earth” view of life. Pragmatists deal with things expediently and functionally. They are not hindered by overmuch consideration of beauty or ugliness, happiness or suffering, respect or contempt — they see what works and they do it. Pragmatism is the ideal of scientific neutrality: no bias for any particular viewpoint or preconceived notions. Pragmatists live by their own experience rather than some ideology or morality or philosophy or fad.

The counterpart of the Pragmatist Attitude is the Instinctive Center. These are alike in that they are both aspects of the Assimilation Process — they are each the combination of the other six traits. They are different in that the Instinctive Center involves the internal function of the person responding to the outer world, while the Pragmatist Attitude concerns the person seeing how the outer world functions.

The Positive Pole is Practicality. People in this Pole see the world’s six basic facets equally. All the things in the world are appliances for which they find suitable applications. They value things for their utility — things are only so good as they can be used to fulfill a need or function. Pragmatists dislike things that do not work well. Because of their dislike for impracticality, Pragmatists rarely seek experiences which are enjoyable for their own sake. If it is enjoyable AND functional then OK. Poetry is nice but prose gets the job done better in the “real” world, so Pragmatists prefer prose.

The Negative Pole is Dogma. People in this Pole show it by being opinionated — they have an opinion about everything, even when they do not have actual knowledge of it. They perceive the world behaving arbitrarily (since they do not understand its true functions, which are not arbitrary), and they are also arbitrary. When people get set in this Pole, their belief patterns are difficult to change: “My mind is made up, don’t confuse me with the facts.” They may accept some theory or fringe doctrine about the nature of reality which cannot be substantiated.

The fear that drives Dogma is the fear of being wrong or ignorant. Dogmatic people want to believe that they have correctly understood the workings of the world. Without adequate knowledge, they will nevertheless declare that they have correctly perceived the situation. In order to get out of the negative pole and achieve clear perception, they can apply the Positive Pole of any of the other six Attitudes. If they experiment with viewing life through the eyes of other people from these other viewpoints, they will gain a perspective of what is really going on. They will be able to give up their own pet opinions and perceive reality as it truly is.


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